When Celtic signed Marian Shved a year ago, Brendan Rodgers hit out with a line that took the spotlight at the time.
Indeed, the current Leicester boss stated that Celtic had “a million wingers”, and therefore they didn’t need Shved between January 2019 and the summer.
At the time, not many would’ve disagreed with him. After all, this was after he had recruited natural wide-men Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah. In addition to that, he had James Forrest, Jonny Hayes, Mikey Johnston, Daniel Arzani, and Scott Sinclair. That’s not including Lewis Morgan who was on loan at Sunderland.
But now it’s difficult to look back on Rodgers’ comment and look at it the same way. Yes, we had quantity at the time, but there was a severe lack of quality that needed addressed.
Since Rodgers’ assessment, Sinclair and Morgan have departed (the latter putting the finishing touches on a move) (Daily Mail). Weah and Burke have both left the club too after their loan spells came to an end. Jonny Hayes, meanwhile, has become an out-and-out left-back also.
“A million wingers” who simply weren’t good enough
Just because we had these wingers available to us didn’t mean they were good enough. After all, many could’ve told you 12 months ago that Sinclair was on the decline. They also could’ve told you that Morgan, Hayes, and Arzani weren’t contributing enough to the left-mid area either.
In addition to that, of all of the wingers we had at the club, there was still no competition for Forrest. Rodgers decided to use Burke as a striker during his time in Glasgow, and Shved’s delayed arrival meant that Jimmy had the position tied up.
All of a sudden, we’re left with a real lack of quality down the flanks. It’s telling that Mohamed Elyounoussi, a summer signing, has actually become our most efficient left-winger too, and is arguably our first-choice when fully fit. Johnston, meanwhile, hadn’t really broken through to the extent he has now either.
Looking back on Rodgers’ comments, you can see why he said them. We were stuffed with quantity over quality, but that shouldn’t have led to us failing to strengthen appropriately in the wide areas.
Neil Lennon has clearly seen the flanks as a problem this season. The arrival of Elyounoussi and a potential right-sided forward potentially coming in (The Scotsman), shows that it remained an area for concern.
Rodgers’ wingers have whittled away, with not one of them being able to keep a hold of the left-wing spot in particular.